The parents of a toddler who beat 10 percent survival odds after being born 16 weeks premature and weighing just over a pound are sharing her incredible story of surviving and thriving.
Troy and Jasmine Tobias from Norwich in Norfolk, England, are parents to 2-year-old Isla. Troy builds Lotus cars for a living while Jasmine is a full-time mom.
Jasmine became pregnant in April 2020 and gave birth to Isla at 24 weeks on Sept. 25, 2020, at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Newborn Isla weighed just 1.35 pounds (558 grams), little more than the weight of a can of soup.
Isla needed UV light therapy for jaundice, and at 3 weeks old, an ileostomy and reversal procedure on her small intestine. Sitting in the waiting room of the hospital’s NICU, her parents were terrified.
“We'd been waiting years to have a little one and struggled to get pregnant,” Jasmine told The Epoch Times.
“Now it’s finally happened, we were so close to losing her and thought, ‘Why is this happening to us?’ I remember thinking, ‘Well, she’s not coming back. This is the last time I’ll see our daughter alive and I haven’t even held her yet.'”
The warrior baby Isla made it out of surgery, but her doctors estimated she had just a 10 percent chance of surviving. Isla spent her first five months of life in an incubator, and Jasmine and Troy were advised to take it one day at a time.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the parents were not allowed to invite their families to the NICU ward to visit.
“For me, the challenge was not being able to have family there on the unit for support when we needed it on the tough days,” Jasmine said.
Troy added: “For me, it was holding everything together so that mom and daughter were as calm and stress-free as possible.”
Grateful father Troy found another way to give back. Despite never having boxed before, he committed himself to train for a white-collar boxing match in the summer of 2022 to raise funds for the NICU that supported his daughter’s fight for life—to buy toys, blankets, and clothes for the babies, and diaries for the parents.
Troy said: “They rely on donations for this, as their funding goes on medical equipment and medicine. I spent 12 weeks intensive training for a fight consisting of three 2-minute rounds. I told myself, ‘Isla won her fight, and now it’s my turn!’”
The proud dad came out on top with approx. US $2,990 (2,500 pounds) for the NICU and claims winning his fight in solidarity with his daughter was “one of the best feelings in the world.”
Jasmine advises other parents with preemies struggling to cope to hold on tight to one another.
“You’re a team. You’re in this together and need to be there for each other. Sadly you can’t change the situation, it is what it is, and you need to ride the waves,” she said.
Troy added: “Never give up. No matter how desperate it may seem, just never give up. Support each other at all costs, it’s a stressful environment and you'll need all the support you can get.”
The couple are now in the process of writing a book to share their story and give other parents something to relate to. They celebrated healthy, happy Isla’s joint second birthday and christening in September.
“At the christening, she just wanted to splash in the water!” Jasmine said, while Troy claimed his favorite moment was “Isla walking around the room saying ‘Hiya!’ to everyone.”
Both parents describe their daughter as amazing, saying, “She’s the most loving, cheeky little flower, and nothing fazes her at all. She’s absolutely incredible.”